Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry (Days After) Christmas!

Hey family and friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, ours was pretty great! As far as the work, things were pretty slow but we had fun nonetheless.

 On Christmas eve we went to the Williamsen's in Kalamazoo 1st ward and had a tasty traditional Christmas dinner. On Christmas day we had breakfast with the same family and played this card game that took 4 hours but was way fun. We also had a sword fight (a for real-life LARP) at the Stevens home. We had dinner later at the Griswold's (he is 1st counselor at KUB) and played some more games. Basically our day was full of eating and playing games.

Kirstin is doing super well. She came on Monday to FHE and made some good friends, especially with Mary Salisbury. We taught her Saturday and she had already read all the way to Alma 26. She knows that the Book of Mormon is true and is loving what we're teaching her. Satan is working really hard to keep her from coming to church though because she had to work yesterday. She is so solid though!

The Ongerts were sealed on the 27th! I thought about them all day and it made me very happy. I am so happy for them and I wish I could have been at the SLC temple with them! I can't believe it was well over a year ago I was teaching Sister Ongert with Elder Reheis in Spring Lake. At the time I really had no idea what was going on, but as I look back I am so grateful that God allowed me to meet such incredible people. 

In other news, me and Elder Mac are getting split up for the next two weeks since a sizable group of people are leaving two weeks before the transfer ends for school. We'll be split up finishing the training of new missionaries. We are somewhat depressed because we'll be separated for New years AND it is likely we won't be companions next transfer. I'm still hoping though! 

Love you all. Have a happy new year!

-Elder Schmutz

Picture: Me and Elder Mac now have comp joggers. They are super comfortable and super legit. 

Companion Gift Exchange. Christmas Day at the Williamsen's - We both
bought each other cologne.

The Aftermath of Our Swordfight at the Steven's. 

Pictionary at the Griswold's (Priesthood vs. Relief Society)

Here's a picture of my trainer, his mom, and his (possibly) new girlfriend with the Ongerts. If you don't remember, Kathy Ongert was the first person's baptism I had a part in back in Spring Lake. The Ongerts were sealed on the 27th. Part of me wishes I had been there, but important work is going on in Kalamazoo. 

I have forgotten to tell you week after week, but in November a former investigator of mine, Valerie Padgette got baptized! She was good friends with some members in Midland, and she was very close to baptism when we were teaching her but decided she wasn't ready to make certain life changes. She found me on Facebook and told me she was getting baptized! It was very exciting and I almost was able to go back for her baptism. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's a Christmas Miracle!

Hey everyone!

This week contained one of the coolest miracles of my mission to date. Do you remember Kirstin who I briefly mentioned in my last email? Well, we picked her up as a new investigator on and she's incredible. I organized my email by days; sorry it's a novella.

Monday night we doorknocked until it was time for trade-offs with the assistants. I went to MSU for the third time in a row, this time with the new AP Elder Rhodes. He's legit and we had a good time together all Tuesday. We taught one of their recent converts, Derek, who I taught 6 weeks ago for his Restoration lesson. He's way cool. The rest of the day we PC'ed on MSU which was deserted (campus break life). Meanwhile, our companions taught Kirstin for the first time and had a sweet Restoration lesson with her. Committed her to come to church, read, pray, and be baptized as we strive to do in the first lesson.

Wednesday we did trade-offs with Allegan. Nothing super exciting happened, but I talked with Elder Finlayson about music during our whole trade-offs. We also scored a bunch of Bruce R. McConkie devotional talks from them. On Thursday me and Elder Mac were back together for half the day. We taught some sweet new people that immediately after our lesson left for home...That night we started trade-offs with Kalamazoo 2. 

Friday, I did lots of finding and teaching with Elder Paulson's trainee, Elder Olsen. He is doing awesome for 8 weeks out. At the end of the evening we went to our return appointment with Kirstin. Unfortunately our male member fell through on us so we could only chat with her on her doorstep. She reported that after her first lesson, she read the Book of Mormon that night until she fell asleep. She posted on facebook that she met with mormon missionaries and got blown up with positive remarks about it. That never happens here! In fact, one of her friends from back home who joined the church this year called her and they talked for three hours. She read, read about the word of wisdom and decided to quit caffeine which is a big deal because she loves and lives on coffee. Her dad is a non-denominational pastor in Chicago and he's supportive too! Her mom is the only person that isn't against her meeting with us. It's truly incredible.

Saturday, we walked everywhere and doorknocked a ton. We were supposed to teach Kirstin in the evening but she ended up having to work a 14-hour shift. She was still excited to come to chruch though.

Sunday. We waited for Kirstin to show up. Waited. Waited some more. She never showed up. She didn't respond to our texts. I was freaking out. Church was really good though- gospel principles was all about the Millenium and everyone speculated hard since there were no investigators there. After church we went to the K-zoo public library to use a computer for FB since campus had been shut down for a couple days due to the break. No luck, all of the computers were full. The thought crossed both mine and Elder Mac's mind, "the only thing that could have kept Kirstin from coming to church was her being hospitalized". Neither of us vocalized it at the time, but I was considering going to the hospital to ask if she was there. I shrugged off the thought and we went home for key indicators. 

At the end of key indicators, Kirstin texted us and told us she had been hospitalized since the previous night and was very disappointed she didn't get to church. I had a sort-of President Monson moment where I promised myself I wouldn't miss a spiritual prompting. We offered her a blessing and we accepted. When we went over with a member from the K2 family ward, she sat us down and told us what happened. After her 14-hour shift, her coworker offered to buy her a drink. She made a point to tell us that she loves alcohol and it's her one concern with the "Mormon church" so far. She accepted the offer and went to the bar. After one drink, she passed out, hit her head, and was rushed to the ER. As a result of a difficult hospital stay, she found out she had an ulcer and can no longer consume alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine. Ever. 

That takes care of her word of wisdom concern.

We gave her a blessing and the Spirit was incredibly strong. So yeah, that was the week. I am simply blown away by how perfect our Heavenly Father's plan is. He knows all of His children, and is aware of the fall of every sparrow. There is only one answer to why anyone would change their life so drastically in such a short amount of time: this is God's truth. 

Merry Christmas everyone!
-Elder Schmutz

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hey - 12/15/14

Sorry, no time.

This was an interesting week. We had a lot of meetings this week (MLC, Interviews, Stake P.E.C.) so we had significantly less proselyting time. I attached a cool Christmas picture of the Elders at MLC though, we feel pretty fancy.

Did trade-offs with Marshall this week, I was with a trainee 7 weeks out that's super stellar. We had lots of fun and picked up a part-member family that is way cool. 

I see time and time again the power of setting specific goals, praying, then acting. On Friday we had about an hour to doorknock. We prayed that we would be let in to teach someone. We finished a building we previously started and at the last  door, a girl named Kirsten let us in and we talked to her for 3 minutes and set a return appointment (we should be teaching her tonight). As we exited we realized our prayer was answered but we hadn't been specific enough. Before the next building I said a prayer asking that we would be let in to teach a Restoration within the 45 remaining minutes we had. Again, at the very last door of the building, we met Kevin who let us in almost immediately. We taught him a Restoration and set a goal for a baptismal date. He really wants to read the Book of Mormon. Our prayers can and will be answered when action fulfills prayer and when we are full of faith. Sometimes He answers in ways we don't see or in His timetable, but He does answer.

Love you all!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Because It's Christmas Time

Hey everyone! Not much time today. Things are really good here though!

I am surprised at the success we had this week. It was the week before finals so everyone was super stressed out on campus but we still found lots of investigators and taught a lot of really great lessons. Some of the people we picked up can't meet until next semester though...We'll see how that goes. Practically my approach boiled down to, "If you meet with us, you'll feel the Spirit and the Spirit will help you with your finals." Manipulative, maybe? I'm not sure. (2 Nephi 32:5)
Good way to start the transfer anyway. Most of our goals involve not eating sweets, including Insomnia Cookie and Den-pops (cheap fountain drinks on campus). We also have plans to utilize #ShareTheGift. Again, if you haven't seen it, watch it. Share it!

We got an investigator Sierra to church yesterday which was super exciting. One of her main concerns so far is that she's looked into many churches but their Sunday worship confuses and/or scares her. She really liked fast/testimony meeting and stayed all three hours AND for break the fast. It was really great! Other funny fact: Sister Ford (who passed out during her talk last week) came and was totally chill about the whole thing. She told me her favorite part of my talk is when I quoted 2 Nephi 32:7 (I think) telling us we should "pray always and not faint". I used the scripture without realizing that someone had literally fainted not 5 minutes earlier. I wondered why everyone thought that part of my talk was so funny.

That's about it. This week is going to be full of meetings for us so not as much time for exciting missionary work. The Christmas Devotional was incredible so if you didn't see it I'd recommend you watch it! Elder Christoffersen is a genius.

Love you all!

Elder Schmutz

P.S. What is the price of gas where you're all at? It is $2.35 here and still working it's way down. It doesn't really affect us at this point since we're missionaries but still, it's been pretty crazy to keep track of it. 

Picture: Enjoying Insomnia cookie for the last time (Elder Sauer was with us that night for transfers). 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Week After T-Giving!

Hey everyone! Glad to hear you had a good Thanksgiving. Ours was pretty incredible too!

This week was kind of a slow one since no one was on campus. Everything was shut down for the break and everyone left for home. We have three other missionaries with us for transfers so everything's pretty hectic today. I should have more time next week to tell you everything that's going on!

We did do a lot of doorknocking and had good contacts for people that answered the door. We picked up Edwin last week, and this week we taught him again and his girlfriend and set baptismal dates with both of them. Otherwise, the only super exciting thing about proselyting this week is the Share the Gift initiative. Have all of you seen it? If you haven't go to It's incredible! We started using it on Friday and I'm super stoked to see how it goes throughout the world. I anticipate that missionaries throughout the MLM will pick up many new investigators out of it this Christmas season.

Thanksgiving was really fun. The sisters held a Thanksgiving dinner at the KUB and we had a decent turn-out. We ended up helping them cook for a while, I made some super good mashed potatoes (we only had a whisk for a masher so my arms got pretty tired). We had two other meals; one with a part-member family in the Kalamazoo 1 ward, and another with Long Chen (Korean BBQ). I'm still recovering from all the food I ate!

So yesterday was pretty sweet. Our sacrament meeting was based on Gratitude since Thanksgiving was just this week. The first speaker, an RM sister who just came home from Ukraine, reviewed Elder Uchtdorf's talk on how we should be thankful in our circumstances. Right at the end before she bore her testimony in Russian, she passed out. Fainted hard-core. Everyone rushed to her aid and she got a priesthood blessing on the spot. She ended up being okay, thank goodness. It was a tough act to follow; I had to give a talk right after her.

That's about it. Not a lot is changing in the zone, we are staying together another transfer. I'm super happy about that! 

Thank you Amy and Clark for the decorations! I take great pride in my Christmas tree, even though I have no clue who any of the people are (except you). I'm excited to meet the ward members when I return. Mom and Dad, thanks for the package! I got everything.

Love you all!

-Elder Schmutz


Me and my brother Elder Sauer said goodbye to our mission dad today since he "dies" Wednesday.
The MLM won't be the same without him!

 My Decorations
Me and My Decorations

In the cockpit of a Blue Angel


We went to the Kalamazoo air-zoo last P-day after emailing. 
It was incredible! We did flight simulators and saw lots of cool planes.

This is a picture of me and Elder Strong right before the flight simulators. We ignored the other planes and just did barrel rolls the whole time. Elder Strong is also known as Ralphie by the mission president and his wife since he looks like the kid from Christmas Story.